Our Rangaali Bihu, the national festival of the Assamese and also our New Year, is celebrated by a diverse number of ethnic groups both in Assam and in many other parts of the country. Baisaakhi is probably the most important festival also for Punjabis. In Assam, Rangaali Bihu has been the most cherished of the three Bihus, the other two being Bhogali Bihu or Maagh Bihu and Kaati Bihu. Traditionally, Rangaali Bihu was a three-day affair, beginning on the last day of the month of Chaitra and ending on the second day of Bohaag or Vaisaakh. But during the last few years, there have been enthusiastic attempts by some people to turn Rangaali Bihu into a fortnight-long or even a month-long festival. This must never be allowed to happen, since any attempt at artificially extending a festival so that it continues for a fortnight or a month is the surest way of diluting it and eventually contributing to its commercialization and destruction. There is probably no community or human group anywhere on this planet that is engaged in celebrating any festival over a period of a fortnight or a month. So, when some people stretch Rangaali Bihu to a fortnight-long or month-long festival, they are telling the whole world that they have nothing better to do than singing, dancing and merry-making for an entire fortnight or month. After all, it is only people without any work who can afford to squander a fortnight or a month on just celebrating a festival. What is rather unfortunate is that some of the television channels too have played a major role in transforming our Rangaali Bihu into a much-extended festival. In doing so, they have played a major role in diluting, commercializing and thus ruining the most cherished of our festivals. Let us keep Rangaali Bihu as it was meant to be: a three-day festival with a day reserved for cattle, another for us Homo sapiens and the last day of thanksgiving to our gods. Three days are certainly adequate for a great deal of merry-making and eating as well as for the traditional duties of looking after our cattle and paying respect to our elders.
Greater Respect for Bihu